Australia eases some immigration rules to fill skills shortages

SYDNEY: The Australian government on Tuesday announced reforms to its immigration system to fill critical labour shortages left after the COVID pandemic kept foreign workers out of the country for almost two years.

The changes announced in the budget will open opportunities for workers on temporary visas to gain permanent residency and allow some foreign students to work longer in the country after graduation.

“Reforming the migration system will ensure it serves Australia’s national interest and complements the skills and capabilities of Australian workers,” the government said in budget papers on Tuesday. The government has significantly raised its projections for net overseas migration into Australia to 400,000 arrivals for the fiscal year ending June from 235,000 in an October forecast. Net immigration expectations for the next fiscal year were also upgraded to 315,000 from 235,000.

The surge follows the reopening of Australia’s borders in March last year to international departures and arrivals after two years of strict restrictions that were widely credited with keeping COVID deaths low by global standards.

Australia has been competing with countries like Canada and Germany to lure more skilled migrants, with the surge in demand exacerbated by an aging population.

Businesses from cafes to construction firms have struggled to fill major workforce gaps and have resorted to hefty hiring bonuses and other perks to find workers. Under the changes, permanent migration will return to the longer-term level of 190,000 places, 70% of which will be allocated to skilled migrants.

About 124,000 workers currently in Australia on temporary skill shortage visas will now be able to apply for permanent residency. 

Foreign students who complete studies at Australian higher education institutions will be allowed to work in the country for an additional two years post-study.

Source: GWFM Research & Study

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